1/13/2019

Use And Significance of Songs in "As You Like It"

8.  Comment on the use and significance of the songs in the play As You Like It.      Ans.  There are more songs in As You Like It than in any other play by Shakespeare. The songs in As You Like It have a definite and tangible dramatic significance. Most of the songs are integral to the action of the play or, to the atmosphere of the play, or to both the action and the atmosphere.    The first song sung by Amiens beginning with “Under the greenwood tree” is an invitation to people to come and live in the natural surrounding, where the sweet bird sings tunefully, and there is no enemy except winter and rough weather. The greenwood tree contributes to the setting of the play. It symbolizes the forest of Arden. This is a song in praise of pastoral or rural life.    The second song “Blow, blow thou winter wind,” is also sung by Amiens. In this song Amiens recognizes the cruelty of the icy winter winds but points out that human ingratitude and the hypocrisy of human friendship are even more cruel than the cold wintry winds. Here the following two lines constitute the refrain or burden of the song.    The heigh ho, the holly,  This life is most jolly.    Thus the song too is optimistic, like the first sung by Amiens. At the same time, beneath the optimism of the song, lives a recognition of the pain and torment caused to human being by ingratitude on the part of their fellow human beings and caused also by feigned friendship and the folly of love. Thus, actually this song is a combination of optimism and pessimism.    The third song is sung by Duke Senior’s lords who have hunted a deer and who are about to carry the dead animal to the Duke. Although this song is apparently sung in a cheerful mood, yet there is beneath it, a heightened though playful cynicism which we perceive in the two earlier songs also. While on one hand, the killing of dear is a sport and also a means of obtaining venison of food, the cruelty behind the killing cannot be ignored.    Then comes the song sung by the two pages of Duke Senior. This is a song about a lover and his lass who are crossing the green corn-field in spring time when the birds are singing and the bride and bridegroom exchange wedding rings. This song is perfectly cheerful and optimistic, without the least touch of pessimism or cynicism. This song is certainly related to the moral atmosphere of the play.    We then come to the brief song which describes wedding as the great Juno’s gift to human beings. According to this song, marriage is a blessing which keeps a husband and a wife together at the dinner table and in bed. Everybody should therefore honour the lofty relationship and bond of marriage. Thus the songs in As You Like It are very significant.

  There are more songs in As You Like It than in any other play by Shakespeare. The songs in As You Like It have a definite and tangible dramatic significance. Most of the songs are integral to the action of the play or, to the atmosphere of the play, or to both the action and the atmosphere.

The first song sung by Amiens beginning with “Under the greenwood tree” is an invitation to people to come and live in the natural surrounding, where the sweet bird sings tunefully, and there is no enemy except winter and rough weather. The greenwood tree contributes to the setting of the play. It symbolizes the forest of Arden. This is a song in praise of pastoral or rural life.

The second song “Blow, blow thou winter wind,” is also sung by Amiens. In this song Amiens recognizes the cruelty of the icy winter winds but points out that human ingratitude and the hypocrisy of human friendship are even more cruel than the cold wintry winds. Here the following two lines constitute the refrain or burden of the song.

The heigh ho, the holly,
This life is most jolly.

Thus the song too is optimistic, like the first sung by Amiens. At the same time, beneath the optimism of the song, lives a recognition of the pain and torment caused to human being by ingratitude on the part of their fellow human beings and caused also by feigned friendship and the folly of love. Thus, actually this song is a combination of optimism and pessimism.

The third song is sung by Duke Senior’s lords who have hunted a deer and who are about to carry the dead animal to the Duke. Although this song is apparently sung in a cheerful mood, yet there is beneath it, a heightened though playful cynicism which we perceive in the two earlier songs also. While on one hand, the killing of dear is a sport and also a means of obtaining venison of food, the cruelty behind the killing cannot be ignored.

Then comes the song sung by the two pages of Duke Senior. This is a song about a lover and his lass who are crossing the green corn-field in spring time when the birds are singing and the bride and bridegroom exchange wedding rings. This song is perfectly cheerful and optimistic, without the least touch of pessimism or cynicism. This song is certainly related to the moral atmosphere of the play.

We then come to the brief song which describes wedding as the great Juno’s gift to human beings. According to this song, marriage is a blessing which keeps a husband and a wife together at the dinner table and in bed. Everybody should therefore honour the lofty relationship and bond of marriage. Thus the songs in As You Like It are very significant.

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